Ethiopia opposition dismisses probe into killings

ADDIS ABABA, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Opposition politicians in Ethiopia on Monday dismissed a probe into two bouts of 2005 post-election violence as an attempted cover-up because it failed to accuse security services of using excessive force.
The independent Inquiry Commission, which presented its report to parliament on Monday, said 193 civilians and six policemen were killed in street clashes in June and November last year in the capital Addis Ababa and some regional towns.
"The report indicates that 193 civilians died without saying how they were killed," said Lidetu Ayalew, head of the opposition Ethiopian Democratic Union Party-Medhin.
"Were they killed while trying to flee the violence or were they shot in the back? All these were not clear in the report."
Mohammed Ali, parliamentary chairman of the main opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD), demanded a new probe.
An earlier version of the report -- leaked by the inquiry's previous deputy head after he fled to Europe -- gave the same civilian death toll, but accused security agents of conducting a "massacre", shooting, beating and strangling people.
The 10-page report presented on Monday said the security forces took "legal and necessary" steps to protect the system of government and stop Ethiopia descending into a worse crisis.
"Considering the vastness of the violence ... and huge number of people who participated, it is not difficult to fathom the potential damage it could have incurred had it not been for the timely action taken to control it," the commission reported.
It said property damage in the capital totalled more than $500,000, including 190 buses and 44 cars as security forces tackled rioters who blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told Reuters last week he regretted the violence, but blamed it squarely on opportunist rioters and an opposition conspiracy to toppled him by violence.
Ambassador Mohamed Dirir, Ethiopia's culture and tourism minister, denied there had been any attempt at a cover-up.
"The report covers all incidents which took place during the violence. It is clear to anyone that there were no attempts to cover-up," he said.

posted by Ethiounited Moderator at12:10 PM


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